Friday, May 29, 2009

Bristol Palin: Homeschooler?

The Palins have certainly given the phrase “school choice” new meaning over the past few years. Since Sarah Palin was elected governor in 2006, her children have attended schools in Wasilla, Juneau, Anchorage, and Michigan. They have also been kept out of school for considerable periods of time, for example, during last fall's campaign, leading to a situation where seven year old Piper actually stated on camera to Matt Lauer that she was having a hard time catching up.

In several private conversations I have had with reporters and others in Alaska, I have been told that Gov. Palin had come under considerable, though mostly under the radar, scrutiny (even some criticism) regarding how inconsistently her children attended school, and how glibly they were moved from place to place. Track, for example, attended most of his senior year in Michigan, allegedly to play on a more prominent hockey team, but when his hockey prospects dimmed he was, in March of his senior year, brought back to Wasilla where he finished the year at Wasilla High School. Having shepherded six children through high school I cannot fathom a teen changing schools three quarters of the way through his senior year, but maybe that's just me being too picky or something.

Exact details concerning the whereabouts of Bristol Palin, however, have been harder to pin down. In particular, Bristol’s attendance during the 2007-08 school year has been questioned on this site and on others. This school year, of course, is the focus of our interest. Why?

1. Someone had to be pregnant with Trig Palin during most of what would have been the 2007 - 2008 school year. If it were not Sarah Palin, it had to be someone else. Period.
2. Photographs of Bristol Palin taken in September of 2007 when compared to June of 2007 show physical changes which are consistent with pregnancy. Does this prove she WAS pregnant? No. Does it suggest that she could have been? Yes.
3. "Something" appears to have happened in Bristol Palin's life during the summer of 2007. She went from being openly in school in the spring of 2007, attending First Family events (albeit reluctantly), posting frequently on social networking sites, working at a coffee shop in early summer of that year, to... as far as we can tell... dropping almost totally out of sight by early fall. She was photographed in Juneau in mid September 2007, then no other photograph of her exists until late April of 2008. ONE family photograph (containing Bristol) released by the Palin family to the media of "Christmas 2007" has been shown to actually have been taken Christmas 2006.
4. Rumors that Bristol Palin WAS pregnant were circulating in Alaska as early as December of 2007, long before Trig was allegedly born in April of 2008.

So obviously Bristol's school attendance during the fall of 2007 is of considerable interest to those of us who are trying to get solid answers to this mystery. Imagine our surprise, then, when out of the blue two days ago comes a totally new, previously unheard of revelation from Levi Johnston to GQ Magazine: he and Bristol, at some point during this 2007 - 2008 school year, homeschooled TOGETHER at the Palin home.

My initial response: Huh?

Her attendance during that year at both Wasilla and Anchorage West has been extensively questioned based on conflicting reports, and spotty information. Of course, neither school will (or should) give any information about a minor student "on the record." So what is known must be pieced together from media reports, which often contradict each other. Wasilla High Assistant Principal Mark Okeson told the media in September that Bristol had transferred to Anchorage “midyear”, though he admitted: “I never heard the story why.” This certainly makes it sound as if she attended Wasilla until Christmas 2007 and then left. The National Enquirer reported that Sarah banished Bristol to live with her Aunt Heather in Anchorage after learning of her pregnancy. And Kyle Hopkins at the Anchorage Daily News, speaking with Heather Bruce shortly after Sarah’s nomination, confirmed from Bristol's own aunt that Bristol attended Anchorage West “in the spring." Bristol's attendance was also confirmed by a private source who has stated to me that Bristol, a friend of her child's, attended Anchorage West in January and February, leaving some time before mid-March 2008.

Yet, the details surrounding the transition from Wasilla to Anchorage remain fuzzy. If Tripp was born at or close to full term in late December, 2008, Bristol could not have known about her pregnancy prior to either very late April or early May of 2008. Anchorage West's LAST day of school in 2008 was May 16th. So it is absurd to suggest that she lived with Heather Bruce AND went to school at any point during her pregnancy with Tripp. She didn't. If it is true that she lived with Heather Bruce while pregnant AND she attended school, it MUST refer to a prior pregnancy.

We do know from Sarah Palin’s interview with Alaska Magazine that, as of fall 2007, the plan at that point had been for Bristol to stay in Wasilla to finish out her high school career. If so, it would be understandable. Not many teenagers appreciate being taken away from friends, favorite teachers, and social events right in the middle of high school.

But, there may have been another option, and, based on Levi's recent statement to GQ, one that may well have been utilized by the Palins. In an article published by the Boston Herald on September 2, 2008, WHS principal Dwight Probasco stated that, while Levi did play for the Wasilla Warriors hockey team during the 2007-08 season, he was not attending classes that year--instead, he was homeschooled via the Mat-Su Correspondence Study School. Here's the exact quote:

Principal Dwight Probasco explained Levi’s decision to drop out: “School might have interfered with Levi’s moose-hunting, so he did a home school course. He continued to play on the ice hockey team, even though he stopped coming to classes two years ago. I understand he is now out of work.”

And now, a new article in GQ magazine not only confirms that Levi was homeschooling during that school year, but appears to impart some additional information that we had not heard before. Referring to Levi at that time:

“The previous year [this has to refer to 2007-2008] he’d been in a homeschool scenario. Alaska boasts the most lax homeschooling rules of any state in the union, in the sense that they have literally almost no rules. Levi was doing his learning online, through a Brigham Young University program. Unsupervised, at the Palins’ house, where Bristol Palin was homeschooling, too.”

The timeline for Bristol's homeschooling is--what a surprise--unclear. It is generally accepted, though, that she began attending Anchorage West at some point in 2008, so this article appears to be referring to the months prior to that. Read that again. This article is now strongly suggesting that Bristol was NOT in fact attending Wasilla High in the fall of 2007, but was "homeschooling."

Wow. Bristol Palin - popular, athletic, good student, missed all of her friends at Wasilla High SO much while in Juneau the previous spring that she decided to... home school? IN Wasilla? What's wrong with this picture?

And adding gasoline to the intrigue fire is a quote from Gov. Palin herself, in August of 2007, where she states specifically to interviewer Armstrong Williams that, the previous day, Bristol (and her siblings) had been registered for school. In fact, what Gov. Palin specifically says is, "Four kids, four different schools." No mention of homeschooling here whatsoever. (Forgive the digression, but I must point out another curious fact: the fourth kid can only be Track, and since he had graduated from high school the previous spring, this has to refer to registering for community college or some other higher education source. Yet... within a month he's changed his mind and has enlisted in the military. It's been suggested many places that Track's enlistment decision was abrupt, and motivated, at least in part, by something other than pure patriotism. This certainly seems to confirm that his mother, in August of 2007, had no clue he was about to enlist.)

Something just ain't right here, folks. Homeschooling is one of the button issues of the religious right. If Palin had homeschooled any of her children for any time at all, don't you think it would have been used during the campaign? Good grief, they used everything else they could find. But no... homeschool prior to the fall of 2008 was never mentioned once that I can find in connection with the Palin family.

I have suspected for a long time that Bristol Palin did not attend school in the fall of 2007, but have not been able to prove it. Does this chance comment from Levi Johnston (just keep talking, kid) provide conclusive proof? No. Does it bring us one step closer? I think so.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho!

As I have stated many times, it has always been my preference to focus on Gov. Palin's behavior and appearance regarding the "Who's Your Mommy? And What Does She Do?" conspiracy. I was - like so many other mothers - disgusted by Palin's behavior regarding her children during the campaign, first quite specifically her choosing to use the announcement of Bristol's then-current pregnancy as the direct - and sole - proof that Bristol could NOT be Trig's mother, meaning that Sarah then had to be, and second, the way she paraded and displayed the children like so many stage props. There's one video in particular in which she carries a rather inert Trig out on stage like a big stuffed doll, strides briskly around with him, then hands him off like a football. I literally cried when I saw it. (I can't find the link at the moment, but if I do I will update this post to include it.)

OK, rant over.

Anyway... I really have not wanted to focus on Palin's children but it has been inevitable that the children - in particular Bristol - had to be brought into the dialogue for the simple reason that Bristol was (and really continues to be) Sarah's only proof that she - and not Bristol - gave birth to Trig. No birth certificate, no doctor's statement, no happy family in the hospital photos, nothing. Just Bristol. (Oh, and "Sarah wouldn't lie." I guess we can't forget that.)

So Bristol's whereabouts, behavior, and appearance are regrettably "fair game." And recently, two discoveries have opened yet more legitimate queries into just where Bristol Palin was and what she was doing - and how she "looked" - in the fall of 2007.

When the rumors first hit the Internet the last few days of August, 2008 that Palin had faked a pregnancy to cover for Bristol, two photos were widely shown in which Bristol Palin purportedly had a "baby bump." The first, in which Bristol is wearing a green sweater, was taken at the Palin's home in Wasilla. I have felt confident dating this to 2006, based on the fact that we discovered another photo from the same shoot in which Todd is wearing a campaign button.

But the second photo was a bit more troublesome.

People said many different things about this photo. One of the first was that it was from February of 2008. (I always thought that was most unlikely unless Alaska is a whole lot warmer than I have been led to believe.) Fairly early on, a correspondent identified this photo as having been taken in Juneau - and sometime in the summer or early fall, as the mountain in the background - according to him - typically has snow on it by late September. That seemed reasonable, and from this we could date the picture with more accuracy. It had to be the summer / early fall of 2007. Why? In summer of 2006, Palin was not yet governor; by summer of 2008, Trig was born and he is not in the photo.

I have always been bothered by this photo because - frankly - I never thought that the person in the photo that HAD to be Bristol looked much like other photos available of her. And of course the reason we are looking at this photo is the alleged "baby bump." Is there one? Possibly, though it did not look much different than the picture I felt dated from 2006. What bothered me more - a lot more - was how different and frankly "fatter" her face looked! But all in all, it's hard to tell, and you can't deny that she does look "full" in the middle.

I never felt confident saying anything with any certainty, however, because dates just did not add up in my mind. Operating from the assumption that Trig was really "due" in mid May 2008 and born a month early, if this photo was taken "before the end of the September" whoever is pregnant here could only have been 4-6 weeks - at the most - too early to show no matter who it is.

But one rumor that has persisted since the onset of this investigation was that Trig was born much earlier than announced. People have based this on numerous (and frankly very divergent) "evidence," not the least being that Trig - from the very beginning of his public debut in September looked much older and larger than you would expect a baby who, on Sept 1, was 4 1/2 months old and had been born prematurely. Other researchers have found clear evidence of a jar of baby food for much older babies (nine months plus) in a photograph of Sarah's desk from August on 2008 when Trig would have been barely four months old. Numerous people have commented that Trig looked much older than his supposed nine months in a recent promotional video Sarah did for the Special Olympics.

And of course as was revealed on this blog several weeks ago - we have clear evidence that Bristol Palin's presence was "scrubbed" almost entirely from MySpace beginning approximately July 1, 2007. Why? We had our suspicions but could prove nothing.

However, with the discovery of some additional photos which clearly show that Bristol Palin experienced rather striking physical changes between June of 2007 and September of 2007 PLUS our discovery that the Palin family may have intentionally released a "Christmas 2007" photo which was actually from Christmas 2006, it's hard not to have our suspicion alert level go to orange, if not red.

Here's what we know:

Several weeks ago, an alert blog reader provided us with this link. Apparently, these photos have been available all along but languished, undiscovered, on a UK photo website. Here's the link and here's another. (For this second link, you need to enter the site and you can search either on photographer's name (Andrew Testa) or "Palin.")

These links were critical because it allowed us to date - absolutely - that the photo of the Palin family on the balcony was taken on September 13th (or 14th - there seems to be a bit of confusion about the date, but a one day discrepancy is not an issue.) We already had suspected this because Palin's agenda, released under a FOIA request, indicated that official family portraits had been taken in Juneau on these dates, but we could not prove that THIS photo was taken then. Now we could.

One thing that is striking about these photos is that Bristol clearly shows signs of a weight gain, both in her face and in her body, when you contrast these shots with ones taken of her only three months earlier, on June 10, 2007.

She is slim hipped, lean through the face, completely flat in the belly, and frankly not very large on top. And three months later - we have this:

This is another photograph that we recently ran across. It was - we think - supposed to have been the "official Palin family holiday portrait for Christmas 2007" and it was obviously taken the same day as all the other photos in September. It was released for use in the Alaska Business Journal's December issue, but I still have not been able to determine if it ever appeared on the state website, or any where else for that matter. It could have been - but considering the fact that we have never seen this photo before now, my guess is that sometime between when it was released to the Alaska Business Journal and Christmas, the Palins changed their mind about using it. Hmmm. Wonder why....

Want another comparison between June 10 and September 14? Here it is:

And this brings me to the second interesting little tidbit that my ever vigilant helpers discovered. One of the things that has always struck us is the complete dearth of any photos of Bristol Palin between (now we know) September 14, 2007 and April 25, 2008 (when she posed in a candid shot with Mercede Johnston before Mercede attended the prom at Burchell High School.)

Bristol supposedly went with her mother to New York City in October of 2007. She is mentioned briefly on the state of Alaska website as having attended a license plate art ceremony (now there's some fun!) in early January, 2008, and again - according to travel reimbursement forms Palin filed, Bristol was also supposed to have attended an American Heart Association event in Fairbanks in mid February, 2008 though no photos of Bristol that we can locate seem to exist for any of these. (Queries to the Heart Association about this event have been met with a surprisingly, even shocking amount of obfuscation and stonewalling. More on this in a future post.) But other than that, the public record is amazingly silent on the whereabouts of Bristol Palin between September 2007 and April 2008.

One "sole" official photo seemed to exist, this Palin family photo released in the Kaylene Johnson biography of Palin, and dated to Christmas 2007. Here - naysayers have claimed - HERE is a photo of Bristol. Nothing to see here. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, you Trig Truthers you.

Except, not so fast.

Here's the picture released in Kaylene Johnson's book:

It's clearly dated 2007.

But here's a picture released in another Palin biography, Lorenzo Benet's Trailblazer.

It's dated 2006. Every person in the photo is wearing the same clothes, so it's reasonable to assume it's from the same year. But which year is it? Who's wrong? Kaylene Johnson or Lorenzo Benet? How to know?

Conveniently, every year at the Governor's Mansion in Juneau, the Governor of Alaska hosts an open house. Many high quality and reliably dated pictures are available of this event from mainstream media for both years. Careful analysis of the photos have shown that the decorations - specifically ornaments on the wreath visible behind the Palin family - are consistent with 2006 NOT 2007. It's not easy to see in the photo released in the Benet book, but when you really look, the conclusion is obvious.

Here's the wreath from the Lorenzo Benet book:

Here's the wreath from Christmas 2006, according to the official state of Alaska website:

Here's the wreath from Christmas 2007, again from the official state site:

It's obvious that the wreath in the photos from both the Kaylene Johnson book and Lorenzo Benet book is from 2006. A "typo" on Kaylene Johnson's part? An OOPS on the Palin family's part? Whatever the answer, this photograph is not from 2007. It's from 2006. Yet another "possible" sighting of Bristol from the time period in question is proved false.

So - what can we conclude?

1. In spite of rigorous efforts to locate one, not a single piece of photographic evidence exists of Bristol Palin from mid September 2007 until April 2008. This is a girl who had many friends with social networking pages. This is the daughter of the governor of Alaska, who prior to this time, had required her daughter to attend numerous "First Family" events.

2. Photographs that do exist show a striking amount of physical change in Bristol Palin during the early months of the time when "someone" would have been pregnant with Trig.

3. The one photograph ever released "officially" by Palin which purported to show her daughter in December of 2007 was misdated. By whom, we do not know.

Stay tuned...

Good Morning Chuckle

My email box is filled with queries about the recently revealed "Christmas - 2007" photograph of the Palin family, which was actually taken in September 2007. A post about this photograph (putting it into a context) is the works.

Meanwhile, just so you can spit YOUR coffee all over YOUR computer screen (you were warned - best to put the cup down now) I'd like to share the following letter. It was written by "Sarah Stelfox" hailing from Alberta, in a "letter to the editor" response to Vanity Fair's recent article on Sarah Palin.

I completely disagree with James Wolcott's description of Sarah Palin as "Margaret Thatcher with moose antlers," a term that is unfair to Ms. Thatcher, in particular, and moose in general. On second thought, I may have to allow the moose bit - for two reasons. Number one: Here in the Canadian Foothills, moose have a regrettable tendency to wander along the roadside, and when a car approaches, they panic, leave the shoulder, and run straight down the center of the road, oblivious to the fact that the car is both faster and stronger than they are. Number two: Although moose often have long legs and an impressive rack, their communication skills leave a lot to be desired, which makes them well suited to a solitary life in the bush, but somewhat awkward in urban settings, where logic and complete sentences are required.

Thank you Sarah Stelfox. We could not have said it better.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Enough is Enough

The Palin Deception website began seven and a half months ago, and the blog only very shortly after the site. Since the very beginning of my efforts to document the bizarre inconsistencies, troubling anomalies, and reasonable questions about Sarah Palin's alleged pregnancy (as well as the outright lies told by her directly,) I have attempted to rely heavily on the considerable photographic evidence available that she was never pregnant. To that end, on this blog and website, we have published literally scores of photographs in which her appearance is completely inconsistent with a forty-four year old woman five, six, seven, eight months pregnant with her fifth child. By and large, the main stream media has ignored this evidence.

This is made all the more ironic because the "Sarah Palin had Trig because Sarah Palin wouldn't lie" contingent has chosen to use a single "conclusive" photograph repeatedly to prove that Palin WAS pregnant, in spite of the fact that everyone must recognize logically that it is easy to appear pregnant if you are NOT (think of how many times it has been done convincingly on film and in theater) but it is nearly impossible to NOT look pregnant if you definitely are.

This photograph was allegedly taken on April 13, 2008, five days prior to Trig's birth. The problems with this photograph have been discussed in the past, in numerous posts on this blog, (here and here) but I will summarize the strongest points again.
1. The photo was released nowhere until after her VP nomination in late August.
2. The photo was released anonymously on Flickr in low resolution by one "Erik99559" to an account that was created solely to release this photo (and one other taken simultaneously.) Andrea Gusty (the reporter also shown in the photo,) in January did state publicly that the photo was taken with her camera, but she never explained who Erik is or was, why this photo was released only to Flickr, or why this was done anonymously four and a half months after the photo was taken. It also doesn't explain why, quietly, some time in the last six weeks, the account and photos just disappeared.
3. The photo was taken by a camera whose date was intentionally altered.
4. The photo was altered after it was uploaded to Flickr to lower the resolution.

Yet this single photo has been viewed as absolute proof positive that Palin was pregnant, and anyone who questions it is a "truther," "nut-job," "left wing looney" or worse. (Believe me, much worse - you should see my mail.)

Today, yet another photo has surfaced which - in my opinion - shows conclusively that Sarah Palin was faking a pregnancy in April of 2008, and frankly doing a fairly crappy job of it. This photo was taken on April 8, 2008 - exactly five days prior to the photo with Andrea Gusty in which she is conspicuously (even largely) pregnant and ten days prior to the announced birth date of Trig Palin. No, it's not terribly clear, and all we have is a photo of a photo, but in my opinion it's clear enough.

It was taken by a teacher, of a chance encounter between two students with Gov. Palin on a set of stairs of the capitol building in Juneau. Again, we see the floppy print scarf, tied in a full way, (again also begging the question why she continued to wear scarves - something she had claimed she did to HIDE her pregnant condition prior to March - AFTER the pregnancy was announced.) And again, careful examination shows the bulky scarf looking "poochey," but the LINE of the scarf on the left side of the photo (Palin's right), thanks to a clear side shot here, as it falls down against her body is completely, utterly straight. Contrast also the hand position. In the April 8th photo, her hand (clutching the two Blackberries,) rests almost flat against her abdomen. In the Gusty photo, she can barely clasp her hands in front of her.

Look above again at the Gusty photo. Try to picture what would happen to a scarf as it draped down her body if she were wearing one. (If any of you female readers are pregnant, similar to Sarah's build and close to delivery, by all means put on a jacket and scarf, have a photo of yourself taken at the same angle and we'll happily publish it for comparison!) Now look again at the April 8th photo. There is no doubt at all. In the Gusty photo, for a TV interview, she is wearing some sort of device or prosthetic to mimic a pregnant appearance. She goes out of her way to appear pregnant, largely so. On April 8th, quickly dashing up the stairs of the capitol, she relies on a floppy orange print scarf tied in a bulky fashion, and while moving quickly from place to place, the distracting floppiness and shape of the scarf did exactly what it was supposed to - mask the fact that there's nothing underneath. But - oh no - here are some pesky students who want a photo and, with no good reason to say no, she says yes. Bad idea. Because there's no six pound baby under that scarf. Not even close. As one very sharp blog reader said once, "Scarves hide hickeys. Not pregnancies."

So when is the charade going to stop? When will the main stream media put a stop to this "emperor's new clothes" charade? When will someone say, "Enough is enough?"